May 20, 2009

Open For Business?

In our last post, we discussed several basic ideas to improve your chances with open houses as methods to generate business in today's real estate arena. Today I'd like to talk about when to hold an effective open house.

When in Rome...

It seems that in most market places, Sunday afternoon is the time when most houses are held open. That's when buyers expect them, that's when sellers plan on holding them and that's when most Realtors have blocked out time in the schedule.

Please don't get me wrong, I have no problem with holding open houses on Sunday afternoon. I guess it's just that I would rather be home with my own family, playing golf or just doing anything other than work on a weekend afternoon. But as the old saying goes, "fish where the fish are." If your market place has steady traffic of potential buyers on Sunday (or Saturday for that matter) then by all means, get out there on the weekend.

But remember, there are only so many fish in any lake and if all the fisherman (i.e. Realtors) drop their poles in the water in the same corner of the lake, there might not be enough fish to go around.

Head Upstream

Do visitors travel to Phoenix in the summer time? Does Alaska have ice cream stores? The answer to both is "yes" and it's a great lesson to learn about open houses. There is no rule that says open houses must be held on weekends. There are many people who can't make it to an open on a weekend due to church, family obligations or maybe work. That doesn't mean they wouldn't love to visit some new listings and see what the house has to offer.

My wife and I enjoyed one of our best vacations together when we travelled to Scottsdale, Arizona in July. I played golf almost everyday and it was HOT! DAMN HOT! But you know what? I payed half price for my greens fees and played each round in less than 4 hours because there wasn't as many golfers on the course. In addition, the ones who decided to play on those hot days (FYI - the Devil was sitting in the clubhouse enjoying the air conditioning) were serious golfers so there was no slow play to worry about.

Same thing applies to real estate. Have you ever held an open house on a Thursday night? How about a Tuesday or Friday? Call it a "Happy Hour" Open House. You might get a few buyers through who you wouldn't have seen on a Sunday (and neither will the Sunday "fisherman") and just think about this...might a potential visitor be a future Seller who wants an agent who thinks outside of that proverbial "box"?

Do Some House Work?

This was one of my favorite things to do when I was actively selling. Do you have any listings that are either unoccupied but furnished or inhabited by working Sellers? Why not use their home as an "away from the office" office? What I mean is this - Ask the Seller if he or she minds if you set up shop at their kitchen table every Wednesday between 12 and 4pm. You'll place an open house sign out front and if anyone happens to come through, you'll be happy to let them look around.

What's the worst thing that could happen? You get four hours of uninterrupted work done? You make some prospecting calls, write some thank you notes, catch up on blogs, newsletters or magazines (real estate related of course)? Or maybe someone who is ready, willing and able to buy (think about the golfer in 100+ temps) out driving around looking at houses happens to come in and visit? That sounds like a "win-win" to me.

So why wouldn't these ideas work in your market? The only reason is because you haven't tried to make them work. So stop reading this blog, look through your calendar and list of inventory and schedule an open house right now.

In our next post, we'll discuss the concept of a Neighbors Only Open House.

Until then, keep building relationships...solving problems...and having fun!